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Alessia Cara Says a Plastic Surgery Show Inspired Her Hit Song ‘Scars to Your Beautiful’

Alessia Cara is only 25 years old, but her music résumé is stacked: A best new artist Grammy win, four top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, not to mention a holiday E.P. you can listen to year-round. (There’s never a bad time for Christmas music, okay?) And more tunes are coming. Today (July 15), Cara releases the first two singles, “Sweet Dream” and “Shapeshifter,” from her upcoming third album.

But before you check out the new stuff, let’s venture back to some of AC’s most memorable songs, from “Scars to Your Beautiful” to “Here” and deep cuts like “October.” Alessia Cara is the latest singer to participate in Glamour’s new series 5 Songs, 5 Stories, where your favorite artists reveal the origins behind meaningful tracks from their catalogs. Stans, this one’s for you. Read (and listen!) on, below. 

“Here” 

This mid-tempo track was the debut single from Cara’s first album, Know-It-All. Produced by pop heavy hitters, including Pop & Oak and Sebastian Kole, the track centers on a party Cara attended that she quickly realized she hated. 

I was still in high school when I made “Here” with Sebastian Kole, who I wrote a lot of my first album with. He was my writing partner for my whole first project. I was at this weird period of time where I was starting my music career but I was still in high school. I would go to school, and then after school I would go to the studio and write songs about my day or whatever I was dealing with.

With this song in particular, it was the weekend, and I went to this party that I just felt so out of place at. A lot of my friends were there, but I just felt so uncomfortable. I didn’t drink at the time and I didn’t smoke. I didn’t really dance. I was just at that period where I was shy and not really down to party. I went to the studio the next day, and Sebastian was like, “What did you do over the weekend? Is there anything we could write about?” And I was like, “Not really. I’m not really going through anything. I’m just bored.” And he was like, “Well, what did you do this weekend?” I was like, “Oh, I went to this party, but it was, like, whatever. I just felt super uncomfortable, and it was just not my scene.” And then he’s like, “Oh, well, that’s what we’re going to write about.” I was like, “Really? Okay. Boring, but whatever.”

He was asking me questions about what I did at this party, and I was just listing things that I was seeing, things I was doing, and that song just happened. It was a stream of consciousness–type song, and it happened super fast and ended up being my favorite thing I’d ever made. It still is one of my favorite songs I’ve ever made. It was just one of those magic moments.

“Scars to Your Beautiful”

Cara tackles body image on “Scars to Your Beautiful,” arguably her biggest hit to date. The track reached number eight on the Billboard Hot 100, her second entry into the top 10 after “Here.” Culturally, “Scars” was everywhere, making appearances on The Bold Type, Law & Order, and, most notably, A Wrinkle in Time

When I started writing with Sebastian, I knew I wanted us to talk a little bit about self-confidence and body image, because it was something  I did struggle with and something I’ve seen a lot of my friends and peers struggle with. I did want to speak to that. One particular day we had a bit of writer’s block, and we were watching TV in the studio and there was this marathon of a plastic surgery show on. We were just talking about it, being like, “Why did people feel the need to do this? Why are people doing this to their faces?” It led to this super-deep conversation about standards and where insecurity actually comes from and how deep-rooted it is. And I was like, “I think today’s the day we’re going to write the song,” and we wrote it. It was one of those things that felt really special immediately and yeah, I think everybody knew it would be something awesome to put out.

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